When the Twin Towers came down 11 years ago (almost to the day), the world was struck numb. Even New Yorkers, who felt the trauma rumble through their veins, couldn’t get past the initial disbelief: how can this be happening? How can something so big, so invincible, actually be so vulnerable? Hundreds of comments have been hurled at Renzo Piano’s “Shard,” the massive, reflective skyscraper that hulks over the London skyline – it’s big, no, huge; it’s out of the context of its Victorian neighborhood; its exclusive price tag could only be footed by Qatar royalty (as it is) – but few, beyond writing off the tower as a symbol of arrogance or hubris, have stopped to consider its impetus. For that, we must look at the Shard in the context of 9/11. Only then can the Shard be understood for what it is: the amplification and perfection of the glass tower Piano began in post-9/11 New York, a utopian vision that stands defiantly in defense of the city itself.
In honor of Renzo Piano’s 75th (gasp!) birthday, we offer an update on his latest projects. The septuagenarian has several large-scale works in various stages of construction scattered across the world, and has celebrated the opening of others within this past year. While we have been continuously following the conceptualization, construction and completion of the Shard, Renzo’s talent is sweeping across major cities both in the States and Europe, including: a satellite museum in New York; a cultural hub for Athens; an urban cultural catalyst for Santander, Spain; an interior renovation for Los Angeles; a recently completed museum wing for Boston; plus, a redeveloped brownfield site turned science center for Trento, Italy. No matter the project location, scale, or program, Piano’s ability to craft an architecture with a sense of lightness, strong attention to detail and overall aesthetic elegance sets him in a very particular category of the profession. So, here’s to a happy 75th and 75 more years of great architecture, Renzo! More after the break.
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop Location: Trento, Italy Architect: Renzo Piano Project Year: 2012 Photographs: Courtesy of RPBW, RPBW – Stefano Goldberg, RPBW – Paolo Pelanda, Colombo Costruzioni – Alessandro Gadutti, RPBW – Cristiano Zaccaria
The disappointment generated by the Shard’s opening laser light show is not so surprising for a project that has been grounded in controversy for over a decade. Since 2000, when Piano sketched his initial vision upon meeting developer Irvine Sellar, the project has consistently met obstacles such as English Heritage and the financial crash of 2007. But, the biggest opposition of the tower has been its height. English Heritage claimed that the tower, formerly known as London Bridge Tower, would “tear through historic London like a shard of glass” (ironically, coining the new name of the tower), and Piano counters that, “The best architecture takes time to be understood…I would prefer people to judge it not now. Judge it in 10 years’ time.” Leading us to wonder…does the Shard simply need time to be fully appreciated?
A week ago we told you about the Botín Center, Renzo Piano’s first major project in Spain. We also featured some preliminar models of the project and more information on this building, which will have the largest private foundation in Spain invest over 150 million USD. We now have more official images, including some drawings and sketches. Check them out after the break.
The Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas designed by Renzo Piano and the neighboring 42-story Museum Tower are embroiled in a dispute revolving around the adverse effects of glare reflecting into the Nasher’s interior gallery and garden. Currently in mediation over possible solutions, the topic certainly brings to light the implications involved in highly glazed high-rise construction and the surrounding buildings. More details after the break.
While all eyes may be locked on the Shard’s latest push toward the sky, Renzo Piano is preparing for his first major Spanish project to officially break ground in about one week in Santander. The Botín Foundation, the largest private foundation in Spain, will invest over 150 million USD for the construction and programming of a new Botín Center that will become an international reference in culture and education for the development of creativity through art. The building will inform a new cultural axis to connect the best art circuits in Europe and will serve as a cultural catalyst to bridge the community with art. Emilio Botín, President of the Botín Foundation, is confident the Center will establish a new community space and link the city with the bay. ”To accomplish it, we have called on the best architect in the world. The architect, who best knows how to link cities to the sea, to build urban spaces, and to generate magical places where art may be enjoyed,” explained Botín. More about the project after the break.
Award-winning architects Renzo Piano and Zoltan Pali will design the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science announced today. “Renzo’s track record of creating iconic cultural landmarks combined with Zoltan’s success in transforming historically-significant buildings is a perfect marriage for a museum that celebrates the history and the future of the movies,” said Dawn Hudson, Academy CEO. Piano designed the expansion of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), whose campus will include the upcoming Academy museum. Pali, a Los Angeles native, is renowned for his Los Angeles-area restorations of the Greek Theatre, the Gibson Amphitheatre, and the Pantages Theatre, the latter earning SPF:a an LABC Award for Historic Preservation. For the firm’s work as the executive architects on the renovation and expansion of the Getty Villa museum, SPF:a received the AIA Los Angeles Presidential Award. The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will be established in the historic May Company building, now known as LACMA West. Opened in 1939, the building is a 325,000-square foot art moderne landmark located at the corner of Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard.
It’s June 1966. Mies’ iconic Seagram Building dominates New York City. Bob Dylan has just released Blonde on Blonde. The Vietnam War is escalating. John Lennon has yet to meet Yoko Ono. Martin Luther King, Jr. has yet to be assassinated. And Don Draper is readjusting to married life – with his 25 year-old secretary. The excitement over Mad Men, while always eager, was positively explosive last Sunday. The season 5 premiere resulted in the show’s highest ratings to date (3.5 million viewers, up 21% from last year). While the show has always received critical acclaim, now, for whatever reason, it has reached a fever-pitch of popularity. On a purely aesthetic level, it’s easy to explain. The show draws in audiences with a meticulous, sumptuous set design that allows a nostalgic journey back in time: when design was innovative & clean, architecture was confident (cocky even), and modernism still held its promise. But on another level, the show is successful because of its inevitability. The very knowledge of the ephemerality of that confidence, a theme particularly relevant to audiences in the wake of the Recession, is what strikes a chord, what makes the show positively hypnotizing. Watching Mad Men is like watching a Modernist car crash. A beautiful demise. More on the Modernist Landscape of Mad Men and why the show has struck a chord with audiences today after the break.
In his interview with Renzo Piano, Rob Gregory of Architectural Review discusses architecture, responsibility and innovation within the field. Piano talks about architecture is being a highly considered inquiry into the process of making because “architecture is more lasting and profound” and if it is done wrong, with the wrong intentions and assumptions, then “it is wrong for a long time”. In regards to his work, Renzo Piano speaks about the “good and bad stories” that surround buildings. Mentioning The Shard in London, designed in partnership with Hunter Douglas and Pompidou Centre, designed in collaboration with Richard Rogers, Piano reflects on the role of architecture in a city as a public building and cultural magnet.
More after the break.
ArchDaily is once again updating you on the progress of The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center designed by Renzo Piano. We showed you initial plans for the building back in 2009. Since then, we have been provided with more detail on the development of the project, which we continue to share with you. As previously mentioned, the center will be a sustainable arts, education, and recreation complex that will contribute to the community of Athens, financed by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. Plans for this building began five years ago but it was not until December 2011 that preparatory excavation work finally began. Construction is scheduled for Spring 2012 and according to the foundation website:
The beginning of the construction phase comes at a very critical juncture in modern Greek history and brings a much-needed sense of optimism and hope, as well as a whole range of significant economic benefits to the country. Approximately €1 billion of total economic stimulus will be derived from the upfront commitment in the construction of the SNFCC, while 1,500 to 2,400 people will be employed each year to support SNFCC construction and all related industries.
More after the break.
Last week, Renzo Piano attended the opening of his newest addition to the site of Le Corbusier’s Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp, France. Commissioned by the Association Oeuvre Notre Dame du Haut, Piano was asked to design a small visitors’ center and convent for the Poor Clare nuns who live on the grounds. When first announced in 2008, the project was in the midst of controversy as an online debate of petitions against the project – signed by Moneo, Meier and Pelli – was sent to France’s minister of culture, only to be countered with a petition in support of the project, including names such as Fuksas and Ando. Even with the conflict, Piano remained cool and collected…and a perfect fit for the job. In addition to his personal love of Le Corb’s project, Piano’s works have a certain air of sensitivty about them, a characteristic that would produce a work not to overshadow nor compete with, yet respectfully support, Corbusier’s masterpiece. “I love Le Corbusier’s building. For me, it’s a masterpiece. He made one of the most beautiful places of meditation in the world,” Piano told Arch Record. More about the convent after the break.
This week, with the help of our readers, our Architecture City Guide is headed to Rome. As the city that gave us the arch, the dome, and the vault, its influence on architecture is undeniable. We put together a list of 12 modern/contemporary buildings that we feel provides a good starting point. It is far from complete. There are dozens of other great buildings that are not our list, and we are looking to add to the list in the near future. Please add your favorites in the comment section below so we can add them on the second go around. Again thank you to all our readers who sent in their suggestions and photographs. The city guides would not be possible without your help.
Next week we will be taking our Architecture City Guide to Rome and we need your help. To make the City Guides more engaging we are asking for your input on which designs should comprise our weekly list of 12-24. In order for this to work we will need you, our readers, to suggest a few of your favorite modern/contemporary buildings for the upcoming city guide in the comment section below. Along with your suggestions we ask that you provide a link to an image you took of the building that we can use, the address of the building, and the architect. (The image must be from a site that has a Creative Common License cache like Flickr or Wikimedia. We cannot use images that are copyrighted unless they are yours and you give us permission.) From that we will select the top 12-24 most recommended buildings. Hopefully this method will help bring to our attention smaller well done projects that only locals truly know. With that in mind we do not showcase private single-family residences for obvious reasons. Additionally, we try to only show completed projects. This week we are headed to Rome. Example of the information we need for your suggestion: Auditorium Parco Della Musica / Renzo Piano ww.flickr.com/photos/pmorgan67/2415383517/sizes/l/in/photostream/ Viale Pietro de Coubertin 15, 00196 Rome, Italy
Opening in 2012, the $118 million steel, glass, and copper-clad expansion to Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum by Renzo Piano Building Workshop will more than double the size of the current facility. Included in the project are a new entrance, music hall, gallery space, and other amenities for an institution that has remained largely unaltered since opening in 1903.
This week, with the help of our readers, our Architecture City Guide is headed to Amsterdam. With its numerous canals, Renaissance architecture, and bike friendly culture, it is hard not to fall in love with Amsterdam. Also, if you love modern or contemporary architecture one could hardly argue against making this city the first stop on a tour of Europe. Our list of 24 buildings hardly does justice to this amazing city, but it will certainly give those less familiar with the city a starting point. We will be adding to our list in the near future, as we didn’t come close to incorporating all our readers’ suggestions. In the meantime add more of your favorites to the comment section below.